India as a country, has only recently agreed to recognize that the LGBTQ community too has rights under Right to Privacy. It has, however, yet not decriminalized homosexuality. Ancient Indian history is dotted with stories and depictions of same-sex unions and gender fluidity.
But somehow, in the 21st century, archaic perceptions relating to the queer community have surfaced. With many believing that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’ and against the order of nature. Oral and anal sex too, among homosexuals and heterosexuals alike, is seen as illegal.
THE ALLEGED BANNING OF ‘LOVE, SIMON’
Adding fuel to the fire is the alleged banning of a coming of age movie about a teenage homosexual boy called ‘Love, Simon’ as reported by Gay Star News. Globally, the film has been received extremely well and has made overall profits of $57.5 million so far.
It is hardly surprising that India would ban such a film, with its archaic laws that have yet not decriminalised homosexuality and don’t recognise marital rape as a crime.
The movie has reportedly been banned in India due to its storyline about the life of a gay boy. It was set for a June 1st release but when movie-goers tried to book their tickets online, they were unable to do so.
Love, Simon is a movie that is unlike any previously made movies on homosexuality. While movies like Moonlight, Brokeback Mountain, Call Me By Your Name have all either had sad endings or deal with major issues like AIDS, or extreme homophobia, this movie simply deals with what it’s like being a teenage gay boy in entirety.
The movie isn’t about someone gay in a supporting role, or a gay best friend, or simply as a homosexual passing character, but is about a gay boy as the protagonist.
The movie was much awaited by people, all across India. Indian movies, over the years have also depicted stories about homosexuality, like My Brother Nikhil, Bombay Talkies, I Can’t Think Straight. However, they too came into controversy during their release.
The reports of its ban sparked a row of backlashes. Twitter blew up with the hashtags #ReleaseLoveSimoninIndia and #LoveSimon trending and an online petition to overturn the ban has also been started.
One petition on change.org, launched by someone called Muskan Mundra talks about how the LGBTQ+ community has been waiting for a while now, for the release of the film as it will give the community some mainstream representation.
The petition further added “India has lacked a mainstream powerful representation of its LGBTQ+citizens for a long time. Although not Bollywood, this film could not only encourage LGBT kids to come out, but also educate parents about what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual etc.”
2569 people have signed this petition in India so far and the number increases every few seconds.
Additionally, many international media platforms like Gay Star News, PopBuzz and Gay Times have all expressed their disdain towards the alleged banning of the film in India.
CBFC’S STATEMENT ON THE ISSUE
The Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson, Prasoon Joshi, has denied any allegations of the movie being banned. He has reportedly said “CBFC certificate has been given to Love, Simon, four months ago”.
Another source has allegedly said that “The truth is that Love, Simon was not released in India, for the same reason, Call Me By Your Name was not released. There is no audience interest in India for films of homosexuality.”
Recent reports from Outlook have brought to light the statement of Vani Tripathi, a CBFC member where she has said “Absolute…..blatant lie. The filmmakers are lying, which means there is something wrong. The are probably realising that the film will get no attraction.”
It is extremely disheartening to gauge the fact that the CBFC feels that there isn’t an audience for gay stories. They have assumed this on behalf of the whole country.
This homogeneity in terms of assuming what the audience wants, is a major setback to the supposedly ‘progressive’ ideology of the country.
There is a large chunk of the Indian population apart from the LGBTQ community which was looking forward to the release of the movie. It would’ve been a landmark screening seeing the number of people in favour of its release.
Image Source: Google Images
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